CLIENT - Escape Fitness
EXPERTISE - Development
Step fitness has been a popular fitness activity for over 30 years. With Progressive’s success in developing product for this market, Escape Fitness tasked the team to reimagine the STEP fitness category, and if possible, to deliver a patentable product. Progressive undertook the technical development of the design in partnership with Escape’s highly skilled internal team who liaised with their offshore manufacturing partners.
The project began with ‘lead user’ product reviews and the creation of a detailed breakdown of past and present products and patents. Leading competitor product was tested in deep dives, with critical product specification details set from these activities. Reviewing the historic development of the market, as well as its current status, enabled a clear framing of the Escape project and initiated the concept creation stage.
Whilst concept creation activities can benefit from free thinking, Progressive recognises that including formal techniques in the process can be very beneficial. Using a number of methods, including aspects of TRIZ and our own Product Genealogy concepts, multiple ideas were created. In tandem with the expertise within Escape these concepts were filtered and early prototypes identified for production.
Prototyping occurred on a number of levels from alpha generation to final embodiment prototypes, showing final aesthetic and material properties. The prototyping phase generated further new ideas, refinements and innovations without which the final concept would not have been embodied.
Once detailed CAD had been generated for the final concept, the drive behind the project was placed back with the team at Escape who would work with the factory to open the tooling.
Progressive continued to support the project and assist with some long-term wear testing on the tooled catches and latches that are vital to the products utility. The use of the Instron Electropuls facilitated accelerated wear testing of the plastic latches within the STEP. The Electropuls performed the same movement over several thousand cycles, whilst measuring release and engagement forces. This meant the number of cycles before failure could be determined, allowing modifications to the design to be made before testing again to make sure the product was robust.
To date the STEP has proven a success for Escape. The innovation of having a step system, consisting of independent step and step-able risers, created a unique patent space. In addition, the interaction of the step and risers allows for the them to be used at angles, which not only provide incline/decline stepping and workout surfaces, but also accommodates for uneven floor surfaces.
Progressive’s project in partnership with Escape Fitness resulted in the creation of a multiple product system, each saleable in their own right, along with the required product innovation and patents. The Escape Step and Riser system is a truly a scalable kit that home users, personal trainers and commercial gyms can all purchase and use in subtly different ways.
"We have been working with Progressive Sports for many years now, forging a partnership and alliance developing State of the Art fitness products for our International client’s. Working from provisional ideas and “blank sheet” philosophy, they have helped us to take conceptual ideas through to mass production worldwide. From detailed brief “Ideation”, 3D design, rapid prototyping, tool design support and accelerated longevity testing support, their experience and attention to detail has been fundamental to the success of the products. Long may our partnership continue.
Head of R&D - Product Development